Are 'fats' really bad for us?

Healthy FatsOur health, diet and the topic of obesity are widely researched and scrutinised in the UK. We are constantly being advised on what we should eat and what foods are labelled as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for us. Research by The National Obesity Forum and the Public Health Collaboration was released earlier on in the week which stated that a High Fat Diet is the way forward over previous claims that ‘Low Fat’ diets were best for us and our health.
This report has leaned towards us eating foods such as eggs, milk, meat and fish, claiming ‘eating fat does not make you fat’. It has been recommended that we should stop counting calories and stay away from food labelled as ‘Low-Fat’ as they often contain extra carbohydrates and sugar to replace the fatty elements.
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It’s important to remember that this research is not telling us to eat sticks of butter and pizza laden with cheese, but to try and include healthy fats in our diet such as nuts, avocado, red meat and coconut oil. The report has been widely criticised from other food experts and medical professionals and say that the new guidelines are misleading.
Joe Wicks @TheBodyCoach is a huge advocate for including fats within our diet and uses High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to successfully get lean. He’s built his social media base around creating 15 minute meals and doing short but effective workout routines. He then encourages a high carbohydrate meal post workout and keeping other meals during the day high in protein and fat.
I’ve done a lot of my own reading recently on nutrition for runners and historically endurance runners have diets that focus around carbs, carbs and more carbs. I find that foods like oats, sweet potato and rice work really well for me on days that I am training. However, there have been studies leaning towards a diet higher of fat over carbohydrates (LCHF). Our muscles firstly rely on glycogen for energy, which comes from carbohydrates, however, our body can only store a limited supply and will then use up fat instead. Our bodies can store a lot more fat than carbohydrates so this seems like a simple solution? The only problem seems to be that transitioning from one diet to the other and the adjustment time it takes for the body to rely on another source for fuel. It’s not an experiment I’m going to start anytime soon but I have found it interesting in further widening my knowledge. I must admit on days that my carbohydrate intake is lower that my pace does suffer and I fatigue during a run much quicker. The reading I’ve been doing has said that changing to a LCHF diet takes time and adjustment and currently there is not enough scientific evidence to support this.
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Despite not being a nutritionist, I think the best bit of advice we can take from this is all is that balance and moderation is key. Our diet should contain a combination of carbohydrates, proteins and fats and should be tailored to meet our own dietary and/or training needs. Everyone is different, our bodies’ types and shapes are not the same, why should we all follow identical nutritional advice and eat the same things? It’s so important to remember that food is fuel and will work differently for other individuals.
My body responds well to a balanced diet of whole foods and I treat myself to some chocolate or cake every now and again. What I eat will therefore be different to Bikini Competitor, an Olympic 100m sprinter or your work colleague trying to lose a few pounds before their Summer Holiday. From following an enjoyable training routine and mixed diet I am the healthiest and in the best shape I’ve ever been. Use the knowledge that’s out there, do your own reading and research and find what works best for you.
My Top 5 Healthy Fats:

  1. Peanut Butter (Nuts n More)
  2. Coconut Oil (I recommend @LucyBee)
  3. Avocado (amazing with eggs or in salads)
  4. Eggs (poached or scrambled!)
  5. Salmon